The U.S. and China are engaged in a “strategic competition,” as the Biden administration has put it, with Taiwan emerging as the focal point. But an ascendant view inside the administration seems to be that while China represents a serious economic, political and technological challenge to American interests, it doesn’t pose a direct military threat. This is a very imprudent assumption that could lead to war and, ultimately, American defeat. To avoid that disastrous outcome, the U.S. must recognize that China is a military threat—and conflict could come soon.
What makes China an urgent military threat? First, Beijing has made clear it is willing to use force to take Taiwan. Subordinating the island isn’t only about incorporating a putative lost province—it would be a vital step toward establishing Chinese hegemony in Asia. And this isn’t mere talk. The Chinese military has rehearsed amphibious attacks, and commercial satellite imagery shows that China practices large-scale attacks on U.S. forces in the region.